Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok says that modern cars in the sport fail to 'scare and terrify' drivers like they did in the past, and that things should be made more challenging in future.
Chandhok - who is now a technical expert for Sky Sports F1 - gave his opinion at the recent Autosport International Show in Birmingham earlier this month.
He was speaking after getting exclusive track time in the Mercedes W10, the car that won last year's championship. The former Lotus and HRT driver said it was "as close to a perfect car as I’ve ever experienced".
And that was a problem, as far as he was concerned.
“If you take a step back though, you wonder is that good for Formula 1?", he is reported as saying by Crash.net.
"I remember driving Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2004 car, and in many ways I still believe that was the peak of F1 performance," he explained. “It scared me at every corner.
"Every time I turned the steering wheel or hit the throttle, I thought this thing is about to kill me!
“When you take a macro-level look at Formula 1, I thought that’s maybe what it should be," he suggested. "It should be scary, it should be terrifying.
"It should be a category where the best drivers in the world - and also the rookies who come up from Formula 2 or Formula 3 - get in there and think: 'Wow, this is terrifying!
“Nowadays, the cars are so heavy," he added, referring to the rise in weight from 605kg in 2004 to the present day 743kg, effectively adding five seconds or more of lap time.
"You feel that. You feel the car lazier in the corners, you feel it reacting slower," he said.
“To compensate for lap time, all they’ve done is ply more downforce on and put bigger tyres on - so they’ve made it easier for the drivers."
As a result, Chandhok felt that F1 was no longer as tough for the drivers, even at venues such as Singapore where the heat and humidity piles on the pressure.
"The drivers are [only] sweating as much as we are. They don’t get out of the car any more looking spent. They don’t look destroyed. It doesn’t look like a physical challenge that it should be," he argued. “I think I’d like to see a bit more of that.”
Chandhok said that he hoped that the forthcoming overhaul of the sport's sporting and technical regulations next season could address some of these shortcomings.
“I’m interested to see where we go for 2021," he said. "A big part is raceability, making it easier to race, but I think they’ve also got to make it harder for the drivers."